Health and plant health measures can, by their very nature, lead to trade restrictions. All governments accept that certain trade restrictions may be necessary to ensure food security and the protection of animal and plant health. However, there is sometimes pressure on governments to go beyond what is necessary to protect health and to use health and plant health restrictions to protect local producers from economic competition. This pressure is expected to increase as the Uruguay Round agreements remove new trade barriers. A health or plant health restriction, which is not really necessary for health reasons, can be a very effective protectionist device and, because of its technical complexity, constitute a particularly misleading and difficult obstacle. Under the SPS agreement, the WTO sets limits on Member States` policy on food security (bacterial contaminants, pesticides, inspection and labelling) and animal and plant health (phyto-hygiene) with regard to pests and imported diseases. There are three standards bodies that set standards on which WTO members should base their SPS methods. According to Article 3, they are the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the secretariat of the International Convention on the Protection of Plants (IPPC). In the context of a dispute over SPS measures, the group may seek scientific advice, including by convening a group of technical experts. If the body concludes that a country is not meeting its obligations under a WTO agreement, it will generally recommend that the country bring its measure into line with its obligations. That might involve.
B procedural changes in the way a measure is applied, an amendment or elimination of the measure, or simply the elimination of discriminatory elements. 6. Without prejudice to Article 3, paragraph 2, when establishing or maintaining sanitary or plant health measures to achieve an appropriate level of plant health or protection, members ensure that these measures are no more restrictive than those necessary to achieve their appropriate health or plant health level, taking into account the technical and economic feasibility. (3) An acceptable level of risk can often be achieved by other means. Among the alternatives, assuming that they are technically and economically feasible and offer the same level of food security or animal and plant health, governments should choose those that are no more restrictive than those necessary to achieve their health objective. If another country is able to demonstrate that the measures it applies offer the same level of health protection, they should be considered equivalent. This helps maintain protection while ensuring the largest quantity and variety of safe food for consumers, the better availability of safe inputs for producers and healthy economic competition. The SPS Committee has also developed guidelines to help governments implement equivalence – the realization that different production or treatment methods in another country can offer the same level of health protection as the measures taken by the importing country4. may be different from other parts of the same country.5 1. In order to harmonize health and plant health measures on as broad a basis as possible, members support their health or plant health measures on the basis of international standards, guidelines or recommendations, where they exist, unless this agreement, including paragraph 3, does not have them otherwise.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on the application of health and plant health measures (SPS) aims to guarantee the right of governments to protect food security, plant health and animal health and to prevent them from being protected by health and plant health measures.